The Week in Blockchain
Tether coin’s price reached an 18-month low this week, despite a general rise in cryptomarkets. The Tether-USD exchange rate fell to less than a dollar, and many investors jumped ship to bitcoin and Gemini stable coin.
Financial services giant Fidelity entered the cryptocurrency world, with plans to create a boutique crypto investment firm targeting large businesses.
Swiss start-up Seba, run by two former UBS bankers, raised $103 million to build a cryptocurrency bank. The duo hope to secure a banking and securities dealer license.
And in other news, Steve Wozniak has co-founded a blockchain startup. This is his first role since leaving Apple for good.
The Future is Decentralised
Norwegian-based company Iagon is on a mission to decentralise data storage – with the help of artificial intelligence. Coincast TV spoke with CEO Dr. Navjit Dhaliwal to learn more.
The company uses a network of privately-owned computers and laptops to build a storage and processing grid. Owners of these computers act as miners, and receive compensation for the use of their storage.
“You can be miner with your laptop,” explains Dr. Dhaliwal. “You can provide storage space and processing power to Iagon and in return you get tokens.”
Iagon earns a 10% commission on the profits made by miners, and analyses their work using AI. According to the CEO, “we are learning about [the miners’] behaviour in terms of performance, availability, cost benefits and trustability.”
Eventually, miners are given ‘cloud scores’. Depending on the ranking, miners may price their services higher and receive better compensation.
Dr. Dhaliwal believes Iagon’s decentralised nature is its biggest strength. “We have no central point of attack, meaning that we are completely secure. That is our main advantage.”
Because it doesn’t require one giant computer for storage and processing, he says that prices are lower for users as well. “We are able to decrease the cost by up to 80%.”
Safe, secure and cheap. Sounds great on paper. The next hurdle will be real-world implementation.
School is Now in Session
In Australia, January means summer break for students. But at the University of Western Australia, classes for blockchain aficionados are just starting.
Dr. Dirk Baur is a professor at the university, and is excited to announce the launch of a blockchain unit for the beginning of 2019.
“Students find it exciting. But I was surprised that they are not more excited about it,” Dr. Baur told Coincast TV.
In the United States, many higher-education institutes have already introduced courses about blockchain and cryptocurrency. This includes New York University, MIT, Columbia and Stanford.
“It’s important to be part of it. This is what the industry is doing. Blockchain has a lot of potential and so they want to be part of it.”
The professor hopes to combat all the fake news about blockchain. “People claim that they use blockchain but they do not really.”
With a cohort of 6 colleagues, Dr. Baur is using education to fight back.
Ready Player One
The multi-billion dollar gaming industry is getting an upgrade, thanks to blockchain.
Developers from around the world converged on Minsk last weekend for the annual Crypto Games Conference.
According Eugene Lavrinenko, an organiser of the event, it was a chance to test software, try new games and meet investors. He says that “for Dapps developers, it is very important to get feedback on their games.”
Online gaming is taking the world by storm. Traditional live sports now compete with video game tournaments for viewership and advertising money.
And in some cases, gaming even outperforms. A 2016 League of Legends tournament attracted 36 million viewers – 5 million more than the NBA finals.
As the industry gets a boost from blockchain, the popularity of gaming shows no sign of slowing.
Tether is Unraveling
Tether is a stable coin pegged to the US dollar. In theory, one token should always equal one dollar. But a recent downturn in price saw the coin drop in value as investors withdrew their support.
Coincast TV spoke with Kain Warwick of Havven to hear his take on the situation.
“Confidence in people’s ability to redeem [Tether tokens] for dollars has fallen. […] That’s been caused by a number of things.”
Mr. Warwick points to issues with Binance, a popular cryptocurrency exchange which suffered software malfunctions last week. The exchange temporarily suspended trades of the stable coin after reporting a period of heightened activity.
International exchanges are now looking for alternate USD stable coins. Huobi, which recently made news for collusion allegations, announced it will launch replacement coins this week.
Tether’s downfall proved Bitcoin and Ethereum’s gain, as investors sought shelter in the networks’ relative stability.
“People decided they are concerned about the risk of Tether and started selling into other assets like Bitcoin,” Mr. Warwick explained.
Like any other cryptocurrency, stable coins carry a risk. And while they generally experience less volatility, he warns that investors must do their research.
The Week Ahead
The focus will be on stable coins this week after the controversial Tether price drop. Huobi and OKX will be releasing new USD-pegged currencies this week.
Meanwhile, digital currency exchange Coinbase opens a new office in Dublin. The move is part of a backup plan to stay connected with the European Union after Brexit takes effect.
Los Angeles will host Crypto Invest Summit next week, while the 2018 Korean Blockchain Expo unfolds in South Korea.
Tune in next week to hear about the latest in cryptocurrency news, blockchain updates and global fintech events at Coincast TV.
For a quick summary of the weekly updates, check out Bitcoin Australia to read our review of the next episode.
Liz is a Canadian journalist and writer for Bitcoin Australia. Connect with her on Twitter @Elizabeth_Utley, or on Linkedin as Elizabeth Utley.